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Covid-19 has crushed our economy like an empty soda can. No wonder we feel discombobulated.

How can we adjust to our 21st century Great Depression? What can we cut? What should we save?

In elementary school we are taught that the three human needs are food, shelter and clothing. We enter this new era materially better off than our relatives of almost a century ago. Education and health care are now regarded as basic needs and often as basic rights.

Financial arrangements for our caregivers

One thing is certain. Fewer of us will be able to pay for care at home or in assisted living. Except for limited assistance through the Star Plus waiver program, Medicaid does not pay for these. We will need to be alert to financial arrangements which benefit the relatives who care for us without making us ineligible for VA or Medicaid benefits. These may include a written lease, a VA-accepted caregiver agreement, a Transfer on Death or Lady Bird Deed.

Protecting our families with a prepaid, irrevocable funeral policy

Frightening though the spread of infection in nursing homes is and understaffed though nursing homes are, we will continue to need nursing home Medicaid to pay for care in our old age. That means that we will need to protect our families by buying a prepaid, irrevocable funeral policy. Medicaid rules specifically state that Medicaid can recover the loan for nursing home care from an estate before the funeral is paid for.

Using an Affidavit of Small Estate

With longer lives over which to stretch fewer dollars, fewer of us will leave an estate which needs probating or, if it does, cannot be handled by an Affidavit of Small Estate. In Texas, the estate of someone who leaves only a home, up to $60,000 in personal possessions and up to $75,000 in other assets, such as a bank account, can be probated without a court appearance by seeking a judge’s Order Approving Affidavit of Small Estate – if there is no Will. At some point, many of us will want to tear up our Wills to save our families money in probating our estate.

Using a properly drafted and executed Will

Others will want to keep the Wills so that things can pass differently from the Texas rules of heirship or because they expect to leave too much for their estate to qualify for probate as an Affidavit of Small Estate. Probating a properly drafted and executed Will is less expensive than asking the court to determine who are the lawful heirs.

 

Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

 

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